Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

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Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

In probably the worst case of timing the Bruins goaltending tandem have exhibited all season, Tuukka Rask voiced discontent with his playing time to a Finnish news outlet during a recent interview.

That it cropped up while goalie partner Tim Thomas is causing an uproar with his politics-filled Facebook account just makes it that much more troublesome.

Rask recently told the Finnish magazine, Urheilu Lehti, what anybody with a competitive bone in their body must have assumed were his private thoughts as a backup goaltender.

Rask clearly wants to play more.

While Rask and Thomas have been closer to even in their playing time this season, the Finnish understudy doesnt seem to dig being an apprentice much longer. Granted all caveats have to be made for imperfect translations and the Finnish media weighing in on the topic from an outside position, but the Rask quotes tell the story.

"The truth is that I want to play more. I do not want to spend a whole career sitting on the bench," Rask said to the Finnish sports media through the power of Google translator. "It is felt that even when I have a good game, the next game is on the bench. If I play and have a shutout, it is not enough.

Claude Julien answered some very vanilla Rask questions following Friday mornings practice at TD Garden, and it appeared Tim Thomas may be getting the start Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Everybody knows Rask is getting impatient while waiting it out for his turn as the No. 1 goaltender to arrive. Its all the more patience-trying when a fellow countryman like Pekka Rinne arrives in town with a weighty new contract and superstar NHL status in tow.
Those are things that Rask clearly aspires to as well as a product of the goaltending factory known as Finland.

But Julien said Rask has done a good job this season maturing into his role, and demanding more like playing time while riding a four-game losing streak normally isnt the safest road to go down. Rask is 0-2 with a 4.54 goals against average and .854 save percentage in two games during the month of February, and was yanked early in the monumental defeat in Buffalo.

With that in mind, Rask was out on the ice before and following practice Friday morning while working to get that comfortable feeling back between the pipes.

Getting pulled out the other night he knew right then and there that he wasnt comfortable and he wasnt good enough. There were no issues at all, said Claude Julien. Its just the way it goes. Its a long year. Sometimes he feels like things are off and today he went out there early to work on his game. Hes a really good athlete when it comes to honestly analyzing his game: when he feels good and comfortable he knows it and when hes not he senses it.

He didnt feel comfortable the other night and I think he told Timmy sorry for putting you in this spot. Thats the kind of player he is. Thats Tuukka in a nutshell.

Hes also been consistent with the Boston media that he loves the city of Boston, and any discontent is borne out of being a natural competitor.

Rasks time will come and he seems to know it no matter what a Finnish newspaper has quoted him as saying. But hes also clearly still the backup.

Thomas has made 35 appearances this season to Rasks 20 games despite the 24-year-old Finn sporting the same save percentage and a better goals against average.

Hes more mature and hes had a good year. His last few games he hasnt been on top of his game, but he knows that. I dont even have to tell him. He knows it, said Julien. As a coach you know hes working on certain things and he wants the extra time. Hes playing more at this time this year than he did last year, but he wants to work hard to stay sharp.

As a group we still have a lot of confidence in this guy. As you saw earlier in the year hes got as good a numbers as Tim does.

Time will tell how things play out between Rask and Thomas, but a playing time gripe to a Finnish news outlet is certainly not what the Bruins needed with the current state of their goaltenders.

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

Brown: 'An honor' to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.

BOSTON – Although he’s only been with the Boston Celtics a short period of time, rookie forward Jaylen Brown is no stranger to making strong statements on the basketball court.

But for all the highlight-quality dunks and acrobatic lay-ups many of us have been a witness to, his most powerful moment may have come Monday night when he addressed the TD Garden crowd in delivering a speech in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day.

“We can talk all day about how Martin Luther King (Jr.) impacted us,” Brown said after Boston’s 108-98 win over Charlotte. “It still wouldn’t do justice. I just wanted to do my part and express how me and my teammates feel about the great Martin Luther King and everything him and that generation did for us.”

His speech moved many, including head coach Brad Stevens.

“I thought that was great; I thought it was great,” Stevens said. “And he went a little bit over his allotted time, I think, but I wish he would have kept going because I thought he did a terrific job of capturing what I think we all feel, and I thought it was extremely eloquently done.”

The only hiccup Brown felt he had during the speech was losing his train of thought briefly due to the echo he heard when talking into the microphone.

But that didn’t take away from the powerful message Brown delivered that he said he did not practice too hard for.

“It was all off the top of my head,” he said.

However, he said some of the message he delivered came from what he learned in a student activism class at Cal last year which is a reminder to us all just how young Brown is.

But as we saw in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,624, Brown is comfortable being the center of attention for important moments.

“It was an honor to be chosen to commemorate somebody like Martin Luther King, and represent my team and represent the NBA and the Celtics organization,” Brown said. “I’ve been celebrating this day for a long time. I’ve been studying and appreciating Martin Luther King and everything he’s done for a while. When they asked me, I was excited.”

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.